Super Sunday IdeasPosted: January 28, 2013
The Super Bowl would be so much better if they played hockey instead of football. So would the World Series, all of the tennis open championships, golf tournaments, college football games, soccer games…badminton…actually badminton is pretty sweet.
If you are going to make ribs, do yourself a favor and go to the local butcher (as you of course should for any meat that you are going to put into your body). I hope, I really, really hope that your butcher can offer you these:
But what are these magnificent meaty miracles destined for mastication?! I call them Columbus Ribs. I introduced them to Bluescreek Farm Meats a few months ago. They are the spare ribs still attached to the pork belly. Yes. Were you to buy this, brine it and smoke it, you would have bone-in bacon. Another way of thinking about them is extra meaty spare ribs. I am an evil, evil, delicious genius.
When I made these at home, I used a very simple recipe, and they were supple, succulent, unctuous, meaty…amazing. (I don’t measure, so these are all my best guess at measurements)
Prep Time: 15 min Cook Time: 8 hours
5lb Columbus Ribs (3-4ribs)
1/2 C Apple Cider Vinegar
8 bay leaves
1tsp whole peppercorns
1/4 C brown sugar
1tsp cayenne pepper
2Tbsp Kosher Salt
1-2 C water
Preheat oven to 225 degrees F
Arrange ribs FAT SIDE UP in a large, deep, non-stick pan (I used a standard sheet cake pan and it was only just big enough). Pour Apple Cider Vinegar around the ribs. Add water to bring the liquid half to 3/4 up the ribs. Don’t submerge them.
Mix cinnamon, brown sugar, cayenne and salt in a small bowl, just to lightly combine them. Gently rub the mixture into the fat of the ribs. Sprinkle the peppercorns on and around the ribs. Place 2 or 3 bay leaves on the top of each rib.
Cover the pan with tin foil, place in preheated oven. Don’t touch them for 4 hours, or until you smell something odd. If you smell something odd, as I did, you will open your oven door to find that the fat has melted off the ribs, into the braising liquid (vinegar and water solution) and subsequently pooled in the bottom of your oven, much like a fruit pie boiling over. If you are lucky, you used a pan deep enough to prevent this from happening. I was not so lucky.
Seriously, though. You may check the status of the liquid every couple of hours. I had to pour off liquid twice during the 8 hour slow braise. The meat is done when a fork inserted into the meat twists easily.
Let the ribs cool for about 45 minutes. Have a drink. You’ve earned it. They should look something kind of like this:
After the ribs have cooled down (not completely cold, just cool enough to handle without burning your fingers [learn from my mistakes!]), you should be able to cut them into neat little 3d rhomboid shapes. I deliberately did not say squares. They will not be perfect squares. Do not freak out.
Heat a cast iron skillet on very high heat (if you don’t have cast iron, a normal non-stick will be okay, but cast iron is just the bees knees for this part). Turn the pieces of rib fat side down, and carefully place them in the skillet. Let them sizzle and smoke for a couple of minutes. This isn’t part of the cooking process, necessarily. This is tightening the fat, searing in the juices, and simultaneously caramelizing the brown sugar from the rub. After you are done, they will look something like this:
This recipe seems really long and complicated, but I promise it isn’t. There are two cooking techniques used, and they are very basic: braising and searing.
I promise you, nobody at your Super Bowl party will have ever had these, and you will be as popular as Wayne Gretzky…er…John Elway.